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Thursday February 11, 2010 - 11:20:45 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Euro edges up on expectations of Greek support

6:06am EST

* Euro up 0.2 pct at $1.3760 on hope for Greek aid plan

* Risk appetite buoyed by Aussie, China data

* EU summit start delayed by snow (Adds comment, details)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Feb 11 (Reuters) - The euro edged higher on Thursday, underpinned by expectations European countries will come to the aid of debt-burdened Greece as investors awaited the outcome of a summit on a potential rescue package.

A meeting in Brussels of the European Union's 27 leaders, along with economic advisers, the head of the European Central Bank and other officials, is expected to reach a political agreement on helping Greece. [ID:nLDE61A0W2]

Elsewhere, Australia's jobless rate hit a 11-month low and Chinese inflation moderated, prompting a rally in the Australian dollar and supporting risk-taking sentiment.

Concern over how Athens will service its debt has hammered the euro -- it is down nearly 10 percent versus the dollar since late 2009 -- but it has found its footing this week as expectations of an aid package have firmed.

Intraday trade has been volatile this week due to swirling speculation about the extent of support for Greece, although analysts said currency moves had calmed somewhat as traders held off from taking big positions in the euro before the meeting. "There's been so much rumour and speculation in the last 48 hours, so unless you have a particularly strong opinion on it most people want to go into it pretty neutral (on the euro)," said Tom Levinson, currency strategist at ING in London.

Still, he said there was room for a dramatic move by the EU, which may trigger initial knee-jerk buying in the euro.

"European authorities look to have been backed into a corner to such an extent that they really do need to deliver something, either a concrete plan or a strongly worded statement."

Heavy snow in Brussels delayed the start of the EU meeting. A news conference is scheduled at its close.

A senior EU source told Reuters the financial details will be hammered out at Monday's meeting of finance ministers in Brussels. [ID:nLDE61927A].

By 1055 GMT, the euro had edged up 0.2 percent from late U.S. trading to $1.3757 <EUR=>, pulling further away from an 8 1/2-month low of $1.3585 hit on trading platform EBS last week.

It hit the day's high of $1.3801 but gains were capped at that level, the 50 percent retracement of its rise to a November 2009 peak of $1.5145 from its March 2009 low of $1.2457.

The euro rose 0.1 percent to 123.53 yen <EURJPY=R>, pulling further away from a one-year low of 120.70 yen last week.

Analysts said the euro was supported by tighter yield spreads between Greek government bonds and their German counterparts -- considered the safest in the euro zone -- on optimism an agreement on Greece would be reached later.

For a graphic of the euro/dollar rate and Greek bond spread, clock on

here

ING's Levinson said a euro rally up to $1.40 would not be out of the question if the EU outlined a firm plan for Greece.

But he and other analysts said it would be difficult for the single currency to hold gains, given the expected challenges of implementing any sort of conditional assistance, and the view that support for Greece would not solve all Europe's problems.

Investors remain wary that Greece is not the only euro zone country suffering from fiscal woes, as indicated by simmering concerns about debt-impaired Portugal and Spain.

AUSSIE SHINES

The Australian dollar climbed more than 1.5 percent against the dollar <AUD=D4> and the yen <AUDJPY=R>, buoyed by a bigger-than-expected rise in Australian employment in January while the jobless rate hit an 11-month low. [ID:nSGE6190O9]

The Aussie dollar later extended its gains after an unexpected slowdown in Chinese consumer inflation in January soothed some concerns about the need for quick monetary tightening by Chinese authorities. [ID:nTOE61706J]

The jump in the Aussie sparked a broad slide in the lower-yielding yen and the dollar, which fell 0.2 percent against a currency basket to 79.897 <.DXY>.

The dollar was flat on the day at 89.94 yen <JPY=>.

(Additional reporting by Tamawa Desai, editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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